Week In Review – 12/18/15

I have to admit, I am not able to physically watch every single new Christmas movie coming out this year. Mentally, spiritually, and even swimmingly, I can do it no problem but my eyes just can’t be present for every single film aired each weekend over 5 networks. Occasionally, one or four will just fall by the wayside and it’s too late to turn the boat around and rescue them from the ether. The Christmas Note very easily could have been such a casualty but since it involved a mystery, of sorts, and since I take credit for coining the phrase, “Christmystery”, I  felt like it was incumbent on myself to watch at least another one in my lifetime, much the way I did several years ago when I watched all movies about hamburgers. Of course I never coined a phrase for that microgenre. Or figured out if anything else was ever coined, besides a phrase. And maybe a coin. But I guess that’s something to work on in the new year.


The only problem with this particular Christmystery is that my wife solved it out loud before we even started watching. She just read the description and that was that. Still though, I am glad this movie didn’t slip through the cracks because I kind of liked it. For one, it was different. For two, it felt like someone really cared about it. Like this clearly wasn’t just phoned in as so many are. And for three, well, there really isn’t a three but those first couple are pretty important. Besides the Christmystery dynamic, it WAS NOT ABOUT A GUY AND A GIRL FINDING ROMANTIC LOVE. It was about two ladies finding platonic love. Plus about 20 more things. In fact, it would be some low-hanging fruit to say that the Christmas Note had too many notes, like I did last week, but these felt less like notes and more just like threads. Maybe they could have snipped a few of them and made the Christmystery less solvable by DVR description alone but who knows, then it might have overshadowed the theme of Christmas. And like I said, someone legitimately cared here. All the acting was pretty decent too, including Meadow Soprano who was put in the unenviable position of having to shoot quite a few scenes where all she gets to really do is make concerned faces but she totally hung in there. I didn’t even feel like she was making the samed concerned face over and over again either. It seemed like she had a whole suite. I also really appreciated taking a break from watching people pretend not to be in love with each other and ice skate and somehow have their relationships factor into the war between Christmas and corporate oppression. And remind us that there is meaningful love in the world (or at the least the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries channel) other than the romantic kind. I wish I had something hilarious to say about how crazy something in the movie was. I thought I found one scene, where they went to meet Cousin Kay, and they walked into what seemed like her house except there was a kid standing up on pedastel, on skis and with full ski gear on, totally immobile, then a whole bunch of other kids standing around him and seemingly writing stuff. This had no bearing on the story either, it was just kind of a curious backdrop. But then I went back to watch it again and noticed that it was supposed to be an art class and all these other kids were sketching the dude on skis. Granted that this wouldn’t be how you would handle figure drawing and this place did not look like a classroom but still, for the most part, it makes some level of sense. So there you go, one slightly confusing moment with an immobile kid on skis. And 3.5 Eggogs.





After that little diversion, we got the train back on the tracks, which meant watching Lifetime’s Saturday premiere of Becoming Santa. It was about a girl named Holly who just happened to be Santa Claus’ daughter. She was in a pretty serious relationship with this other dude, Connor, and decided it was finally time to take him home to meet mom and dad. But she hasn’t yet told him who she is and who they are. Uh oh!

Becoming Santa

Since Santa lives in the North Pole, you’d figure she might need to at least let Connor know where they’re headed, geographically, for Christmas but no and it’s never actually actually clear where he thinks they’re going. He sure as hell isn’t going to figure it out on his own, I’ll tell you that. Even after being drugged, waking up in a place that looks a lot like the North Pole (complete with Aurora Borealis), noticing that her dad seems very Santa-ish and that he keeps reindeer in a stable, Connor is still pretty much clueless. Oh yeah and their last name is Claus. Holly finally fills the poor guy in, after he discovers the elves and workshop, but this is only Part 1 of the big news she has to break. Because in a bizarre twist of fate, whoever marries Holly becomes the next Santa Claus. So the job gets passed down from generation to generation but it doesn’t matter if you are even part of the bloodline. Why don’t the Clauses (Meredith Birney and Michael Gross) have a son like they did when they played the parents on Family Ties? And more importantly, don’t you have to know magic to be Santa? I don’t think Connor knows any magic. He does technically have a job as a toy designer BUT he may be the worst toy designer in the entire world. His latest product is a wooden dog on wheels and and he seems totally flummoxed when a focus group filled with modern kids isn’t falling over themselves to play with it. For one, people have already made this toy. For two, it’s really not that interesting to begin with. For three – and this time I have an actual “for three” –  this is a toy for a baby or young toddler, not the 7 year-olds in this playtest. His boss even cancels the company Christmas party on the spot when he sees it all go down. So admitedly, Connor doesn’t have a lot of job prospects at the moment but still, agreeing to be the new Santa is a big committment for anyone to make. Especially when, and I say this once again because it really is so critical, he does not seem to have the magical powers necessary to perform the role. Will he somehow get these powers if he marries Holly? Seemingly no, because Mrs. Claus appears pretty put off when Connor is unable to eat an entire plate of cookies in 20 seconds, which is the first test potential Santas must pass. Speed eating. We also have yet to establish that the current Santa is going to retire or needs to retire at the moment his daughter marries. And then what happens if they get divorced?

Connor is nice and/or dumb enough to keep rolling with all this up until another suitor for Holly’s affections, a guy who looks like Kato Kaelin (and may in fact even be Kato Kaelin for all I know) but is supposedly Jack Frost, convinces him he is just not up for the task. Jack is certainly a dick but he’s not wrong here. Santa Claus needs to be able to deliver presents to the children of the world in one night, which means that he also needs to move at beyond superhuman speed or be at a billion places at once and probably walk through walls because plenty of places don’t have chimneys and even if they did, that has never been a viable way to enter or leave a building. So Connor goes back home and instead of coming up with some awesome new toy idea to get his mojo back, he pitches the same damn wooden dog on wheels to the kids only this time, he forces them to put down their mobile devices and play with it. Now they love it! Problem solved, un-cancel the Christmas party!! And wait a minute, some co-worker has a big plate of donuts sitting on their desk, which Connor proceeds to speed eat the entire stack in a way consistent with how Santa eats cookies. Although if you’ve ever tried to eat multiple full-size donuts, I can tell you there isn’t a 1-to-1 correspondance here. You eat the first one and you’re like, “Yeah, I could easily take down another.” Then you eat your second and it’s still good but somehow not as good as you thought it would be. Then if you go for a third, which I want to be clear about and say I don’t recommend, you’re sick and it’s game over. But since Connor doesn’t immediately vomit, we are meant to believe that he now has the power to be Santa. But why? The movie tells us that it’s just because he got his confidence back after physically forcing children to play with his ill-conceived toy but I maintain that this kind of speed eating and impossible digestion is indeed magic.

So how did he get this magic? Because Holly loves him? At this point in the story though, they are not together. Connor bailed on Holly and left her up at the North Pole, now seriously considering a proposal from Jack Frost. And why does Jack Frost want to be Santa so badly? Why does anybody, when you really think about it? I like giving toys to kids and making them happy as much as the next guy but flying around the world in one night makes me feel like I just ate 100 donuts in a row. I would spend most of December sobbing in the bathroom if I had this gig. And it’s not exactly something you can just quit either. But Holly eventually mans up and says screw it, she is just gonna have to be the new Santa since Connor isn’t interested and Jack Frost is a dick. So you’re thinking this is Girl Power, right? Well, not exactly. It’s been almost 20 years since The Spice Girls came on the scene and the best you ladies can hope for is to be a co-Santa with your fiance, who of course desides to come back and take the reins. Although once again, we still have not established that Holly’s dad is going to retire at any point in the foreseeable future. I guess I should just be glad it’s not me. And much like donuts, I wouldn’t recommend going with more than 3 Eggnogs for this movie but I do recommend pouring as much alcohol into them as you like. Which by the way, I have done some experimenting with recently and can tell you that a dark spice rum and cognac combo is the way to go.

eggnogeggnogeggnog + Dark Rumcognac



Okay, this is a weird one – Beverly Hills Christmas. We watched it on the Up Network and for the life of me, I can’t remember ever setting the DVR to record it. And that thing is filled with Hallmark and Lifetime movies I need to watch but still, since we hadn’t checked in with Up in a while and wanted to see how Beverly Hills might play, we gave it a shot.


You don’t need to have watched a pornographic film before to know that watching one feels not unlike this movie. Without all the sexual content, of course, but just the general look, feel, and most importantly, acting in Beverly Hills Christmas is on par with some pornos out there. Dean Cain is in it and manages to keep his head above water but this was the exception, not the rule. And what the hell was he even doing here? I love how much he likes Christmas but it is okay to say no to one of these things, dude. He does get to play Gabriel, the angel, which I guess is pretty sweet but he has to guide this other recently-deceased lady, Donna Spangler (who I think was a wrestler at some point), and get her to help out her spoiled daughter in ghost form. The weird thing is that while most people can’t see or hear Donna Spangler’s character’s ghost, some people kind of can. Like the dog. And their black housekeeper. I am not kidding. I’m sure they weren’t trying to be racist here, maybe even the opposite by saying that being a black and more importantly non-rich lady, their housekeeper is more in touch with her spiritual side and generally a purer human but still, it was kind of funny to see her looking around when the ghost talked. It’s possible they came up with a better explanation for this but much like white people trying to listen to a ghost, we couldn’t hear it because we also ended up bailing on the movie pretty early on. The porno acting was just too much for me. Or maybe not enough, without all the actual pornography. We might revisit later but until then, it’s an Empty Glass for you, Beverly Hills Christmas.

Empty Glass



Up next was the Republican Debate, which aired on Tuesday night. While not necessarily/at all a Christmas movie, we watched it during an all-important time slot that we normally would have watched Debbie Macomber’s Dashing Through the Snow so I figured I might as well review it too.

Republican Debate

Or what about this? What if I just rated each candidate, based on the traditional Eggnog Scale? I realize that might be crossing a line with our relationship here but what the hey:

  • Carly Fiorina – She says a few things I agree with from time to time but ultimately, I wonder if she wants to be president because she truly wants to help her country or because it’s just the top rung on her ladder of success. The feeling I get from listening to her is that it is the latter (ladder). Which is kind of funny because as SNL already pointed out, she was fired from her job as a CEO and then failed in her previous run for the senate. So how exactly do you fall down to the office of US President? Plus she tossed out some ridiculous quote the other night – “If you want something talked about, ask a man. If you want something done, ask a woman.” Ignoring for a second that this is in no way true nor even a commonly held stereotype, it’s completely lame to play this card when people would scream bloody murder if Jeb Bush said the exact same thing but reversed the genders. Or if any of the other candidates took her to task for saying it. That’s one reason why we need trap doors at these debates. If you get owned in an argument or spew out some totally inflammatory rhetoric, a trap door opens you and down you go. With 0 Eggnogs.


  • Jeb Bush – You know of all the candidates, he is probably the one I would most get along with in real life. Just a likeable dude. Not unlike his brother. But therein lies the rub. Because first off, he’s the younger brother and acts like it, coming off kind of small, lacking confidence and more importantly, gravitas. Secondly, I don’t care if he’s Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, and FDR all rolled into one, if we value any kind of relations with the Middle East, there is no way we can elect this man purely on the grounds of his lineage. When his dad was in charge, we went to war over there. When his brother was president, we went to war over there again. If you’re some dude living in any of those countries and you find out we elected another Bush here in the United States, wouldn’t you kind of take it a little personally? I’d give him 2 Eggnogs but according to the Electrical College, is not nearly enough to win the nomination.


  • Marco Rubio – In some ways, he is kind of the opposite of Jeb Bush for me. Incredibly polished and confident and smooth. Yet we could never hang out. There’d just be a lot of awkward silences. That’s okay except sometimes I find myself listening to the actual content of his statements and realize that he is not as smart as he sounds. Or at least, I don’t agree with what he’s saying, despite how good he sounds saying it. He might even be a mandroid, now that I think about it. It’s funny how the ears are always the hardest thing to get right. So I definitely wouldn’t recommend voting for a robot. Or giving robots the right to vote. Those things never work in the movies and if it can’t work in a movie, it certainly isn’t gonna fly in real life. 2 Eggnogs.


  • Ted Cruz – He reminds me, and I’m sure plenty of others, of a televangelist. He’s also a little creepy. And almost looks half-melted but still, I think I might kind of like him. Not necessarily want-him-to-be-president like him but how about vice president? Maybe if I threw in, say, 3 Eggnogs?


  • John Kasich – Is he really running for president? Because when I look at him, I just think – Big 10 college basketball coach. And man, he sure loves Ohio, doesn’t he? Apparently he turned that state into a mythical wonderland. Someone should tell him that if he really won the election, he would have to leave his utopian state of Ohio and move into the White House, which is located in Washington D.C. Someone should also tell him that he’s not going to win. 0 Eggnogs.


  • Dr. Ben Carson –  This is a tricky one because personality-wise, he seems very nice. Like a breath of fresh air compared to some of these other yack-a-doodles. And he’s clearly superintelligent in at least one particular arena. But did this all come at the expense of sanity? I’m not sure. Nor am I sure what would happen if he became president. Or if he even knows. If you know, just try to look surprised when it all goes down. You don’t want to be outed as the person who can accurately predict the future. Everyone will just bug you for the rest of your life. ???Mystery Eggnog???


  • Rand Paul – When I first saw this guy, I thought he was the classic dick characters from these Christmas movies that we love so much. Just seemed kind of angry and bitter and almost like an evil miser who would replace all ramps at the orphanage with much more profitable stairs yet was somehow still supposed to marry the main girl before she met the love of her life. But he’s totally grown on me. He may actually be the most intelligent of all the candidates on either side. By that I mean, I think he has the most detailed knowledge about the most things. He probably has a lot of sophisticated, nerdy hobbies too. And he’s definitely more down-to-Earth than I originally gave him credit for so hats off to you, Rand, if that is your real name, and if I could vote for you for vice president, I would. But like travelling backwards through time and cheating at bingo, it’s just not possible. 3.5 Eggnogs, putting you narrowly in front of both Ted Cruz and Becoming Santa.


  • Trump – It’s funny because Trump actually IS the bad guy from Christmas movies. He’s all about money, the bottom line, stairs, etc. But he also said that if he were elected president, we’d all be saying “Merry Christmas” again. So maybe he’s the bad guy who got visited by 3 ghosts and learned what’s important in life and is now the good guy? Why else would he be doing this? Being president is a terrible job. Way worse than being Santa so for him to put himself through this grinder and spend all his own money on a campaign when he has already achieved massive success, I have to believe he’s in this for altruistic reasons and really does want to make America great again, although I realize that all of those words are very subjective. Plus he says that his first duty as president is to change our national anthem from the boring, old Star-Spangled Banner to We Will Rock You by Queen. Wel,l he doesn’t say that, I say that, but here’s hoping. And here’s 4 Eggnogs plus 1 Republican Nomination.

So there you have it, Trump for President, Rand Paul for Veep, and let’s get those trap doors set up for the next debate.



But first, let’s get that train back on the tracks once more and onto Debbie Macomber’s Dashing Through the Snow.


Kind of a make-or-break moment for D-Mac, huh? Because while I’ve noted many times how much I like Trading Christmas, all those Mr./Mrs. Miracle films are the worst. Dashing Through the Snow will have to decide once and for all if she’s got the chops. After all that buildup though, I am a little sad to tell you that it’s still too close to call for me. The movie starts off a lot like A Christmas Detour – girl’s trying to fly home for Christmas, all the flights are cancelled, and she ends up sharing a rental car with some strange dude she doesn’t know but is a little annoyed by. The weird thing is that she wants to go from San Francisco to Seattle and I have no idea why all the flights would be canceled and all the rental cars would be rented. Actually that’s not THE weird thing because the movie is about to take an unexpected twist here. It turns out that the FBI is after this lady and have been tracking her for reasons unknown. And man, if the FBI in real life is anything like how they were portrayed in this movie, I hope President Trump cleans house over there as soon as he takes office (after he finishes changing our national anthem, of course). Then we find out that this dude she’s a little annoyed by/attracted to is part of the FBI as well and is pretending to travel with her because….I don’t know. Nor do I know why they send another agent to follow them. Better yet, if they are convinced she is a dangerous criminal, as they seem to be, why don’t they just apprehend her on the spot? Is it a sting operation of some kind? And what the hell did this lady even do in the first place? I’ll tell you where you won’t find any of these answers – the movie. This could be an interesting premise but they fail to explain any of it and they really fail at ever convincing us that maybe our lovable, kooky crafter Ashley really could be the public enemy that the authorities seem totally convinced she is. The main guy, Dash, which I think is really his name, eventually becomes convinced though that she is not a criminal mastermind. How does he become so convinced? Because she seems nice and mentions something about being identity thefted several years ago. So that explains it all! She didn’t do any of the unexplained bad things, it was just someone else using her identity. How did this not get reported though? Shouldn’t the FBI have this information? I truly pray that they would, in real life, but not in this crazy world. It is in fact so crazy that they don’t even adhere to that new 3-Day Rule I was talking about earlier. For them, it’s just 1 day. And it’s serious too. We even see a slow motion flashback of all their beautiful moments that happened over the course of just that day, which didn’t even span a full 24 hours because of things like sleep. After the couple finally hooks up at the end (oops, hope I didn’t spoil it there), Ashley says something like, “You’re all I ever wanted.” Holy smokes, that’s fast!! Oh yeah, and there are these equally crazy, relatively un-set up side characters who pop out of nowhere like a sensitive biker dude giving away puppies and two Canadian teens pulling license plate swapperoos so that one of them can afford to take Bailey on a ski trip. Who the hell is Bailey? It doesn’t matter. And I do appreciate the attempt to breathe some more life into the story here but these diversions probably work a lot better on Debbie Macomber’s laptop than they do on the screen. Like I alluded to at the beginning of this long paragraph, I’m afraid I just don’t know what to make of it all. I guess we enjoyed the experience of watching this movie but thought it could have been better and maybe should have been better and most definitely would have been better if they had just listened to all of my criticism and changed the story accordingly. Of course that would require time travel and I’m not going to address that again. I will give it 2.5 Eggnogs and issue an official warning to Debbie Macomber that this is really it. The next D-Mac joint better be freakin’ epic.




While I’m handing out official warnings, I should tell you, Ion Television, that you are skating on very thin ice here. Over the past few years, we could always count on Ion to throw us a some curve balls. A few wild cards, maybe even a few Dr. Ben Carsons ,if you will. Christmas Belle, Holiday Road Trip, Merry Ex-Mas, Back to Christmas, Christmas Kiss II, to name a few. Coming into this season, I had such high hopes but so far we have been collectively let down with what seem like relatively tame attempts at Hallmark clones. What the hell, Ion? That’s not your brand. Your brand is crazy and sadly enough, you were not reunited with it in Christmas Reunion.

christmas reunion

Once again, the hopes were high. Patrick Muldoon has been a guy we could also always count on and while Denise Richards is new to the party, she kicked things off on the right foot earlier this year with Up Network’s Christmas Switch. I mean, it certainly wasn’t great but at least it was crazy. I couldn’t find any crazy in A Christmas Reunion. It was more like Starship Troopers Reunion anyway, as Jake Busey was also in it along with the aforementioned Richards and Muldoon. Still though, what we got was just a pretty straightforward tale about a lady coming back to her hometown to take over her Aunt’s bakery along with her ex-boyfriend who was also sort of seemingly raised by her Aunt too so it’s almost like they’re related but not enough that them hooking up isn’t okay. Although it wasn’t really okay with me. I didn’t want to see Richards and Muldoon make out. Not because I don’t like Muldoon or appreciate his hardcore devotion to Christmas movies and certainly not because I don’t appreciate Denise Richards saint-like devotion to Charlie Sheen’s kids, it’s just that they are past the point of being physically attractive in a way where I want to see them kiss. In Muldoon’s case, this is because he’s relatively old. Not so much in years but his stylistic attempt to cling to youth ironically makes him seem older than the sum of his parts. With Denise Richards, it’s even worse because she has unfortunately joined the ranks of women who destroy their once beautiful faces with plastic surgery and now just look inhuman. Then to make matters worse, she is so skinny that it just looks unhealthy and sad. Normally I would feel like a jerk focusing so negatively on peoples’ appearances but you already know I am voting for Trump so hence, a terrible person anyway. More impotantly though, in this case, it is their own damn fault and I consider it a public service message. Plastic surgery doesn’t look good. Maybe in the future, we will figure it all out and be able to get our faces carved up in a way that not only makes us more attractive but also looks totally natural. That day has not come yet though. And until it does, I recommend we all stay the hell away from it. The other reason I don’t feel as terrible spending most of this time talking about the physical features of our lead actors is that there really wasn’t much else to say about the movie. At some point, my wife and I checked out and just started eating those Pop Chips again, which are still just as good this week as they were last. If only Ion could have been just as good this year as they were last. I guess they’ve got one more weekend to redeem themselves here but even if they deliver two Merry Exmases, it will be hard to few 2015 as anything other than a letdown for this once up-and-coming network. I’m only giving A Christmas Reunion 1 Eggnog and that’s purely because the cookies they showed at the very beginning looked good.




The Angel of Christmas was another movie from a couple weeks’ back that was going to slip through the cracks and I was comfortable with that but in an effort to be more physically present for movies in a week that included extra diversions like the aforementioned debate, Beverly Hills Christmas, and those side characters in Dashing Through the Snow, I made some extra time to watch this in the bathroom.


Oh yeah, I watch TV in the bathroom. After my political diatribe, I figure I might as well just lay it all on the table here. Full disclosure. I should also disclose that watching TV in the bathroom is pretty awesome. And the movie wasn’t bad either. Much better than I expected, watching the trailer and reading the title. While not officially a Christmystery, it did have a mystery component which I think I’m liking more and more in these films. It’s about a lady trying to figure out the story behind this angel ornament her great grandfather carved years ago. She meets a guy who looks like he’s from a Canadian rock-pop band from the mid-80s and pushes way too hard for a date. Like he makes the lyrics to the song, Baby It’s Cold Outside, seem tame by comparison. I actually felt pretty uncomfortable there for a bit. But eventually the girl gives in and he helps her solve the mystery, as well as restore her love of Christmas. But then he gets too pushy again and I get uncomfortable. I missed the scoop on this angel ornament because I was taking a shower when they explained it all but not being able to hear the words and just judging from their faces, I think the big reveal is that they are actually brother and sister. Just kidding, I read that in the closed captioning. Just kidding again, I am not going to spoil the big reveal/Christmystery here, more than I already have telling you about watching television in the bathroom. But I highly recommend this practice and kind of recommend this movie, to the tune of 3 Eggnogs.



Can you believe we are now officially 1 week away from Christmas? I don’t know how many more of these movies I will be able to fit in, in the bathroom or otherwise, because at some point we shut down and switch over to only watching older stuff – Jingle All the Way, Star Wars Holiday Special, Very Brady Christmas, anything with Captain and/or Tennille – you know, the classics. But it looks like there might be some instant TV classics on the horizon too. Hallmark has something going with Mariah Carey and a movie just called Christmas Land. Then it looks like Lifetime has another ghost story but this time the ghost is a hipster and with Ion, we’ll just have to cross our fingers. Happy Week Of Christmas!




Week in Review – 11/20/15

I’m still playing catch up here but did tune into the Hallmark Channel’s double-feature last weekend, starting with the curiously-titled, I’m Not Ready For Christmas.


I say “curiously-titled” because there is absolutely nothing about this movie that suggests anyone is not ready for Christmas. After a little digging though, we discovered that Alicia Witt, who plays our main character, Holly, actually moonlights as a singer and her latest single is in fact called, “I’m Not Ready For Christmas.” The song doesn’t really have anything to do the movie either (even contains a swear word!) so I have to imagine it was just a separate deal and part of the negotiation process involved titling the film after the song in an effort to promote it? I’ll tell you what the movie does have though – tropes. Like, pretty much all of them. We’ve got Santa, we’ve got magic, money vs. Xmas, dead parents, black friends, houses that are way too nice, and weird decorations in the sense that there are more Christmas trees in this movie than you have ever seen in your whole life. Just pause the DVR during any scene that takes place in a public interior space (Holly’s office, school auditorium, ice rink) and you will be able to count at least 4 of those suckers in the frame. One trope that I haven’t talked about or columned in my spreadsheet is all the business deals that just happen to go down right around Christmastime. This happens so much in these movies but probably never in real life, right? I mean, I don’t know about you but I pretty much just stop answering the phone at my office altogether when December rolls around, let along make major decisions or promotions or hires or anything past the 15th. If you work in retail, of course you may be super busy but even then, I doubt there’s a ton of significant corporate shifting going on.

In any case, I have not mentioned the main plot point of I’m Not Ready For Christmas, which is that Holly’s niece pulls a Liar Liar and wishes that Holly will not tell anymore lies. All the things she could have wished for and she picks that. And it’s not even totally correct because the issue is not so much that Holly lies, it’s that she doesn’t make time for friends and family because she values her career over all else. I believe we’re supposed to believe that by not being able to lie or make up phony excuses, Holly will come face-to-face with the bigger issue that is not valuing her family but I can’t imagine that the 7-year-old could have played this kind of a long game with her lone wish. Still though, it’s a decent enough premise although they could have paid it off better, with all the uncomfortable situations that might have arisen from it. In fact there really wasn’t any conflict whatsoever to come out of Holly telling brutally honest truths yet at some point, the niece wishes that Santa will undo her previous wish and give Holly the power to lie again. This girl has a non-present father, non-alive grandparents, and lives in a world with Isis but spends her two wishes on what ultimately amounts to nothing. And if it really takes magic to learn a lesson, I’m not sure you’ve totally learned it. What I’ve learned is that Alicia Witt, while still far from my favorite leading lady, is here to stay and being that she is a double-threat (movies and music), I at least owe her a double-nog.

In this image taken on November 5, 2012, two glasses of double whipped eggnog are shown in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)


After double-nog double-threat Alicia Witt’s latest vehicle, Hallmark followed up their own weekend double-feature on Sunday Night with Christmas Incorporated.

Christmas Inc

I had said that the name alone guaranteed at least a 3 Eggnog rating but I might want to back away on that. There are some good things, like the sheer amount of garland used in just about every scene. What I’m Not Ready For Christmas Is to Christmas trees, Christmas Incorporated is to garland. Like garland that doesn’t even make sense sometimes. Every hard edge in the movie is trimmed with it, even if it’s blocking a drawer from opening or presents multiple fire hazards. Then there’s a weird little town with a self-described unemployable mayor and a secondary character named Piper who drives our the main girl around, works at the front desk of her hotel, as a barrista at the coffee shop, and then seemingly as a waitress at a fancier restaurant. She doesn’t work at the local toy factory though, which has fallen on hard times due to its inability to modernize, tipified by not selling their products online. And it’s not that they don’t want to sell products online or want remain charmingly old school either, they just seemingly can’t get it done. In 2015! How is that even possible? But what they miraculously can do is change one of their stuffed bears in production to say something different, now asking you to make a wish, and these bears will get out to retailers in time to be purchased by the masses despite it being December 12th or later and most stores no longer even ordering new stock. Plus the bear doesn’t actually grant wishes. This is a terrible idea and no offense to the scrappy little toy factory but let’s be honest here, they pretty much deserve to get shut down. Even on Christmas? Especially on Christmas! How could you blow it so badly for so long during the most critical juncture? I guess I have now myself become the bad guy in these movies.

I will also say that the main characters don’t necessarily make me want to change my ways. They’re nice enough but I don’t believe them, together or apart, and I don’t care how many wish bears they manage to sell through purely word of mouth (!), these people are all doomed. At least the toys aren’t made in China but they soon will be and the romance already is. What the hell does that mean? It means it’s time to wake up, America!

2 Eggnogs! eggnogeggnog


I kind of tuned in and out of some reruns this week as well…

Debbie Macomber’s Trading Christmas – Saw this again the other day and while I can’t remember how many Eggnogs I originally gave it, I now want to give it more. It kind of falls into On Strike For Christmas territory in that I like it unironically and without my usual snark. Totally opposite from Christmas Incorporated, I completely believe all the main characters and care about them too. But if Debbie Macomber could do such a good job with this, why do I hate her Mr./Mrs. Miracle movies so much? Maybe Trading Christmas was just her Jagged Little Pill? Meaning, she only really had one great album despite releasing others. Except I don’t personally like Jagged Little Pill and consider it great so maybe that’s a bad metaphor. Her Tapestry perhaps? Did Carole King have other albums besides Tapestry? She must have, right? But she did write plenty of classic songs outside of Tapestry, that’s for sure. Jeez, I’m really struggling to make this point and I’m sure you get it anyway. Nevermind (but did you get that?).

Let It Snow – So Alan Thicke really fired his daughter on Christmas Eve? I guess I knew that and even commented about it in my original review but man, that is cold, even for a bad guy in a Christmas movie, even from the perspective of someone who has aparently now become a bad guy in a Christmas movie. But this is definitely good enough to watch. And Candace Cameron is more of a Michael Jackson going back to my earlier failed metaphor. She’s got two really solid albums (movies), maybe a third depending on how generous you’re feeling about Bad (Moonlight and Mistletoe).

The Christmas Clause – This one was from 2008 but since it was not only filmed in Canada but a pretty much full-frontal Canadian production, it felt more like it was from 1998, in American Standard Time. Lea Thompson played the main character and it’s almost a reverse Christmas Carol plot. She is a sweet mother of three but totally overwhelmed with her kids, motherly obligations, struggling career, etc. and wishes what it would be like to not have any of these major hastles so she gets to live for a while as a successful, single bitch. She actually does a good job and the overwhelmingness is accurately portrayed but the lesson doesn’t really make sense because she loves her children and instantly wants them back while in the other life, as any decent person would. So what is there left to learn? Or even do? Other than just kind of make me sad because I want this lady to get back to her kids.

One Christmas Eve – This has been on a couple times in the past couple weeks and I’ve kind of had it on the background and for the life of me, I can’t figure out exactly what’s going on. Too many characters and too many injuries requiring medical attention. Who wants to spend Christmas in the hospital? And were they also snowed in? I couldn’t tell that either and obviously, no one wants to be injured and spend Christmas in a hospital while snowed in but I’m sure this movie is trying to sell us on the fact that with the spirit of the season, even this can be magical. Maybe it’s even successful in this lofty endeavor, I don’t know, but I just wasn’t willing to commit the necessary brain space to figuring it all out. Anne Heche is in the film, if that helps. It didn’t help me.

Love at the Christmas Table – It’s good to see Winnie Cooper grown up and back in action and I found her totally likable in one of these roles. Also good to see her returning again this year with a new movie coming out Thanksgiving Week on Hallmark. Think it’s called A Crown For Christmas too but anyway, Love at the Christmas Table is generally abnoxious. WAY too much serious conflict with the male “love” interest. They only see each other once a year and spend some of those times in pretty vicious fights. Love should not be that hard. Even at the Christmas Table.

Speaking of new movies on the horizon, the good news is that it looks like Lifetime has taken my advice and has a seemingly Thanksgiving-related film premiering this Saturday. The bad news is that it involves Muppets. Maybe not THE Muppets but muppets of some kind. And I’ve never understood the appeal there. I feel like Lifetime may have jumped the shark here and it’s nowhere near as cool as when Fonzie did it.



Christmas Is Back! – Week + in Review – 11/13/15

Almost a couple weeks ago now, Hallmark kicked off their first original movie of the season, which was coincidentally called, “‘Tis the Season For Love.”


Was it any good? Who knows, who cares, I was just happy to be watching. And this movie definitely followed the standard blueprint for a Hallmark Christmas movie about as much as my spreadsheet could handle, save for a couple of slight twists. For one, the main character goes back to her old hometown around Christmas and we learn that there was an ex-boyfriend there so you figure they are naturually going to get back together when she learns that leaving her hometown was bad but it turns out this ex-boyfriend has married someone else, had a kid, and looks a lot like Shooter McGavin. BUT he also has a friend that she grew up with but never really noticed back in high school (good sign) who just happens to be a single fire chief and loves kids and helps Shooter pick out and carry a Christmas tree from the lot because Shooter is too busy because he has a wife and kid but is also standing right there and could easily hold the damn tree. The other thing that was kind of different was just something I didn’t understand and involved Santa, playing the now common role of magical wishmaster, giving our main lady character this key on a necklace. But key to what? We never find out! I mean of course, I’m sure it’s metaphorical, as so many keys are, but it seemed totally unnecessary, given that she didn’t really need a key to figure out what she was supposed to figure out nor did that key turn out to open or do anything in the movie. Or did it? No, I’m still saying no but I’ll give it….3 Eggnogs for kicking the whole thing off and confusing me.


Oh yeah, and THANK YOU, Hallmark Channel, for putting the Golden Girls, The Middle, Frasier, Little House on the Prarie, The Waltons, and God-knows-what-else on a much-needed hiatus for a while, so you can show wall-to-wall Christmas movies. You have given us all the metaphorical key to happiness and there aren’t enough eggnogs in the world I can award you for that.


The Up Network has now entered the mix too and I had to watch Christmas Trade, which involved a kid and his dad switching places. I love when that happens, in movies or otherwise.


And yes, that is THE William Baldwin, formerly of the movie Sliver. We should all probably watch that again soon, by the way. A few months ago, my wife and I re-experienced Disclosure together and it was kind of fun, now that we’ve had 20+ years to put that whole ordeal behind us. I’m not sure if I could say the same thing about Christmas Trade. As in, that we should all watch it. It was definitely crazy and ridiculous, which provides a nice foil to the traditional Hallmark machine, but much like erotic thrillers of the 1990s and the musical stylings of Enigma, you might need 20+ years before you can truly appreciate it. And maybe figure out how switching places actually benefitted Baldwin and his kid. It wasn’t real clear to me. Kind of their version of the mysterious key that never opens anything. Also, did Tom Arnold literally play Santa or God in this movie? It didn’t seem like he was very Santa-ish so that only leaves God, right? All I know for sure is that if Tom Arnold really is God, we have all made a huge, huge mistake.

2.5 Eggnogs? eggnogeggnogeggnog



Hallmark was back this last weekend with 2 new movies, one of which was called Charming Christmas.

Charming Christmas

Why was it called “Charming Christmas?” I really have no idea. Just another key that doesn’t open anything. In the end, I know the main guy gave people charms so I guess that kind of works but it’s pretty thin. At the beginning though, the characters were anything but charming. Julie Benz plays a bitch and does such a good of a job of it, I already don’t believe her eventual transformation. Then the main guy comes off as being over-the-top obnoxiously nosy and judgmental. I get that sometimes the romantic leads have to hate each other first before they love each other but WE’RE not supposed to totally hate them, are we? Then I realize that this main guy is David Sutcliffe, which means that he also played The Zunes’ husband from the classic and all-time personal favorite of mine, On Strike For Christmas. The one who famously (for me) asked how much time was left in the quarter. This time, he plays someone who may or may not be Santa or God and really does not want Julie Benz to turn her family’s department store into a franchise. He never asks how much time is left in the quarter but he does have what I am now going to officially call another “Sutcliffe Delivery Moment” when he sounds the alarm about a relatively small missing kid. There is also a slightly magical Mrs. Claus dress and none of Sutcliffe’s scarves ever get buckled/tied. What does all this mean? Exactly.

3 Eggnogs eggnogeggnogeggnog


Look, I’m going to level with you and say that I didn’t actually watch Ice Sculpture Christmas yet. I’ve been a little behind and I’ve got a feeling that it’s just not going to deliver. Am I crazy here? Maybe it’s my crippling fear of ice sculptures, maybe it’s the fact that the couple just didn’t seem cute enough for me, or maybe I’m lying and did actually watch it but don’t know quite what to say about the whole thing yet.


I can tell you this though. There is an alarming new trend in these movies that doesn’t just involve the drinking of Folgers coffee but drinking it in a very special manner, with two hands on the coffee cup and the sense that you are sipping a beverage perhaps more than just coffee but instead, a magical elixir which gives all of your insides the biggest, warmest hug ever hugged.

IMG_9820 IMG_9819 IMG_9818

Have you ever known anybody to drink coffee (or even magical elixirs) in this fashion? I never have but it looks like pretty much the best way to drink or do anything so it’s probably worth a shot. Maybe even with…….

2.5 Eggnogs  eggnogeggnogeggnog……

….but it’s also worth pointing out that while the plot and characters aren’t going to blow anyone away, I at least appreciate the fact that the main girl seems like a legitimately sweet, decent person and they do actually teach us something about ice sculptures, which beats teaching us things like how inherently evil any and all forms of capitalism are or how having a completely awful, heartless boyfriend or girlfriend at the beginning of the movie does not reflect upon you or the choices you make in any way shape or form; lessons we’ve been taught to death by these films (yet still hopefully don’t believe). Then at some point down the road, I think I’d like to have a more in depth conversation as to just how meaningful it is to consistently create characters with pre-dead parents and/or loved ones. We went 4-for-4 with that trope in the movies I have discussed so far and it’s obviously one of the biggest backstory components in this micro genre of ours.

But now is probably not the time for a such a conversation as again, we are just getting started here. Got a whole new slate of movies coming up this weekend too, one where I believe Alicia Witt’s character is magically unable to lie for some reason. Then there’s another one called “Christmas Incorporated”, which already gives it a base rating of 3 Eggnogs from me, sight-unseen. Can’t wait to watch and fingers crossed that somehow we give Christmas’ little cousin, Thanksgiving, some quality air-time in at least one or two of these things, especially as we are still very much in Thanksgiving territory right now. I sort of watched The Thanksgiving House again last week and sort of liked it more than before so they might be able to sell me on just about anything. And of course it goes without saying that my offer to write AND drink coffee in a Thanksgiving/Christmas movie still stands.

One Starry Christmas – 11/1/14

One Starry Christmas

Well my friends, we did it. Somehow, someway, we made it to Halloween and on the day at least Mexico celebrates as Dia de Los Muertos, the Day of the Dead, the Hallmark Channel has ironically given life to the new season of made-for-TV-and-me-Christmas movies. They didn’t waste any time saddling up with One Starry Christmas, which premiered tonight and threw down the gauntlet for what I believe will be an amazing couple months for us here.

Sure, it might be a little early for Christmas but it’s never too early for love, right? And if you believe that, you’re going to like this film. Because it’s all about believing. In love, in stars, in dreams, in cowboys and pretty much every trope I have ever identified as being associated with these movies and a few I could kick myself for missing. But as rote as that may make One Starry Christmas sound, it still featured some baffling/bizarre/amazing moments that managed to make my brain explode even before my trope detector did.

We start off with a girl named Holly who is in a serious, 3-year, co-habitating, about-to-become-engaged kind of relationship with a guy named Adam, who is the worst human being ever. How do I know he’s the worst human being ever? Because he’s in a serious relationship with Holly, which means they will not be in a relationship by the end of the movie, which mean he must be completely wrong for her, which makes him a massive dick. She’s a plucky, little astronomer who likes stars because they’re magical and he’s a stuck-up lawyer who likes money because it can be exchanged for goods and services. He uses some of this Devil’s currency to buy Holly a Christmas tree that comes already decorated. Then he tells her that he unfortunately will not be home for the holidays because he has to go to New York for business. But this is okay because he’s going to make more money and hints at a possible marriage proposal coming shortly thereafter.

At this point, Holly seems petty on board with Adam. Yes, she kind of blanched at the pre-decorated tree and him working over the break but for the most part, she loves the guy and calls her mother excitedly to celebrate the news of a potential proposal and does that looking-at-her-ring gesture ladies sometimes do although I think she uses the right hand, which is actually the wrong hand when it comes to finding one’s ring finger. Turns out her parents live in New York as well and seem like sweet people who love Christmas and have garland up all over the place. Then it turns out Holly is going to come up to New York to see her parents and surprise her boyfriend, Adam, with a visit.

You might be thinking that like most surprise visits, this will end with her catching Adam cheating on her, making it okay for her to leave him for whoever the New Guy is but I’m going to spoiler non-alert you to the fact that this is not the case. If anything, it’s the opposite. Holly gets on a bus headed to the Big Apple and this is where she meets Luke Shetland, a cowboy who might be more stereotypical than even his name would have you believe. He’s going to New York as well for a rodeo and spouts a bunch of adorable drawl. The bus ends up breaking down, leaving them stranded somewhere in Pennsylvania and already entering into what I consider to be an inappropriate relationship. Holly is immediately waaaay too flirty and her exchange with Luke is like a combination of every romcom convo you have heard and my suicide letter. Luke is clearly the greatest human being ever and seems completely smitten as well. After rustling up a Dodge Durango, he offers to drive her the rest of the way to New York. Sounds safe enough. Drive through the middle of nowhere with a dude you met 15 minutes ago on a bus.

But before surprising her boyfriend, Holly decides to stop by her parents’ place for dinner. With Luke, the guy she just met on the bus who is not her boyfriend. And oh yeah, he’s going to stay the night at her parents, with her staying there as well, even though he must have had somewhere else he was planning to stay. Plus he’s never see New York so Holly’s gonna show him around and take him shopping the next day. For all parties concerned here – Holly, Luke, her parents – none of this seems weird or like a problem of anything out of the ordinary really. Just day-in-the-life kind of stuff. Of course Holly and Luke’s little NYC date is just more of the same inappropriate flirtation and vomit induction.

Then finally, the boyfriend shows up and is understandably peeved to notice that the woman he loves has taken such a shine to this cow gentleman. He kind of acts like a dick but really not all that bad, considering these crappy circumstances. The parents have taken quite a shine to Luke as well (perhaps even the Dad equally, inappropriately so) and have gone so far as to now invite Luke’s cowboy older brother over for Christmas Eve dinner.

When the older brother drops in, that’s when the rails really fall off. You see there’s some story that One Starry Christmas has been peddling around about how the group of stars that scientists and just normal humans refer to as “Orion’s Belt” is known as “Wild Bill” to lovably simple Texas cowboys like Luke and his brother. Something about Wild Bill (Hickok, I would assume?) was in love with someone named Josephine and there were camellias at Christmas time. I’d look it up so I could explain it to you better but I already looked it up and couldn’t find a damn thing corroborating any of this nonsense, other than how the actor, “Wild Bill” Elliot, was married to a woman whose middle name was Josephine but then they got divorced in 1961. Coming out of Luke’s mouth, however, it all sounds like poetry. But that’s nothing compared to what his older bro has got in store for us. Because his older bro is a country singer in real life (if country singing is real life) and they manage to crow bar a scene into this movie where Older Bro sings a song about Wild Bill and Josephine and camellias at Christmas time and the rest of the characters just sit there and listen, spellbound. All except for Adam of course, who realizes he’s got to step his game up if he wants to have any hope of hanging onto Holly.

But he doesn’t have any hope. Things go from bad to worse when he tries to take Holly to a business-related Christmas party but Holly’s mom comes too for some reason and brings Luke as her date. Luke steals the show once again by teaching everybody at the party how to kick up their heels and learn a Texas-style line dancing routine and probably earn their souls in the process. Adam’s marriage proposal to Holly right afterwards seems trite by comparison. She says Yes, by the way. But after the party, she breaks it off without the slightest bit of remorse and doesn’t waste any time jumping right into Luke’s arms. For the record, Adam never officially did anything terrible to Holly. He actually loved her and wanted to get married. Granted, he’s certainly not the sweetest, most warm and fuzzy guy in the world, and yes, he is materialistic but none of this makes him inherently terrible or deserving of any of the shit Holly pulls. The heart wants what it wants, I get that too, but this is a movie and Holly is supposed to be our protagonist, someone we can root for. Instead I just rooted for a mass murder but maybe my head is still in Horror Movie Mode. Or One Starry Christmas just made me into a much worse person. Either way, I had a damn, good time watching all this heartfelt hogwash unfold and I sure am excited to kick off this magical season of Christmas and more importantly, the season of Christmas movies.

Probably a little too early for Eggnogs but I did have some pumpkin beer left from Halloween and would easily give this movie 3 of those suckers……pumpkin beerpumpkin beerpumpkin beer